Dra­matic rise seen in en­vi­ron­men­tal law­suits

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The num­ber of en­vi­ron­men­tal pub­lic in­ter­est cases brought by NGOs and pros­e­cu­tors in­creased rapidly dur­ing the past 12 months as re­lated laws and a pi­lot pro­gram move for­ward, the na­tion’s top court said.

A re­port on the En­vi­ron­ment and Re­source Ad­ju­di­ca­tion of China, is­sued by the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court on Thurs­day, showed courts heard 848 en­vi­ron­men­tal pub­lic in­ter­est cases be­tween July 2016 and last month, of which 791 were ini­ti­ated by pros­e­cu­tors.

Of the law­suits filed by pros­e­cu­tors, 720 were against gov­ern­men­tal de­part­ments, up from about 690 a year ago, the top court said.

“The soar­ing num­ber shows that pros­e­cu­tors have be­come a ma­jor force to ini­ti­ate pub­lic in­ter­est law­suits and they have played a big­ger role to pro­tect the pub­lic in­ter­est by in­creas­ing su­per­vi­sion of the law’s im­ple­men­ta­tion,” said Jiang Bixin, vice-pres­i­dent of the top court.

In the re­vised Civil Pro­ce­dure Law and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Pro­ce­dure Law, which were ap­proved by the Standing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, the top leg­is­la­ture, at the end of June, all pros­e­cu­tors have been al­lowed to file en­vi­ron­men­tal pub­lic in­ter­est law­suits against poorly per­form­ing en­ter­prises or gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies.

Be­fore that, pros­e­cu­tors tak­ing part in a two-year pi­lot pro­gram in 13 pro­vin­cial re­gions, in­clud­ing Bei­jing and Guizhou province, had some suc­cess in ini­ti­at­ing such law­suits.

The ex­ten­sion and the in­creas­ing num­ber of re­lated dis­putes show the test was ef­fec­tive and “will be use­ful for courts to ac­cu­mu­late ex­pe­ri­ence in hear­ing pub­lic in­ter­est cases”, Jiang added.

In ad­di­tion to pros­e­cu­tors, NGOs have had the right to ini­ti­ate en­vi­ron­men­tal pub­lic in­ter­est law­suits un­der a re­vised En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Law since 2015, and they filed 57 such cases be­tween July 2016 and last month.

In 2015, 14 NGOs in 20 pro­vin­cial re­gions, such as Liaon­ing and Hebei prov­inces, ini­ti­ated such law­suits, “but now the num­ber in­creased to 25 in Liaon­ing and 27 in Hebei”, said Lyu Zhong­mei, from the top court’s en­vi­ron­ment and re­source re­search cen­ter.

“Their law­suits not only cov­ered pol­lu­tion of wa­ter, air and soil, but also is­sues re­lat­ing to cli­mate change, wet­lands pro- tec­tion and plants,” she said.

Her cen­ter also se­lected 208 re­lated cases be­tween 2015 and 2016, find­ing NGOs won most law­suits, and the time Chi­nese courts took to hear such dis­putes has been re­duced.

“It’s good to see the progress of en­vi­ron­men­tal pub­lic in­ter­est law­suits made by NGOs and pros­e­cu­tors, but some pro­ce­dures in ini­ti­at­ing such cases, I think, need to be spec­i­fied and reg­u­lated through guide­lines,” she sug­gested.

“For ex­am­ple, it’s easy to say es­tab­lish a fund to be used for the en­vi­ron­men­tal restora­tion, but where the money is and how to su­per­vise the use of it is more ur­gent to clar­ify,” she said. en­dan­gered

of 848 en­vi­ron­men­tal pub­lic in­ter­est cases heard by courts be­tween July 2016 and last month were ini­ti­ated by pros­e­cu­tors.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.